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On Thursday, Sandra Oh became the first actress of Asian descent to earn an Emmy nomination for lead actress in a drama series.
“I’m struggling to find the right words for it,” Oh tells The Hollywood Reporter of her historic nomination. “I feel quite serious about it. What’s a blend of the words ‘seriousness’ and ‘joyous’? I’m absolutely thrilled. I feel my community at all times; I am my community at all times. I have joy not only for the show and myself and family, but also for my community. Hopefully my community can feel like they have representation as well.”
Oh, who stars on BBC America’s Killing Eve as a MI5 spy, has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy five times before. The actress earned five consecutive nominations from 2005-2009 for her role on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, all in the supporting actress category. She never won.
Speaking as to why her role as Eve has been a breakthrough, Oh tells THR, “What breaks through is the time and the focus of the show on these two characters. It is focusing on female psychology and the female psyche and is doing that unabashedly in a thriller. I don’t think that we’ve seen that before.”
In 2010, The Good Wife‘s Archie Panjabi became the first actress of Asian descent to take home an Emmy for acting, winning in the supporting actress category. Last year, Aziz Ansari, Riz Ahmed and BD Wong all earned acting nominations. Ahmed won leading actor in a drama for HBO’s The Night Of, becoming the first man of Asian descent to win an acting Emmy. Ansari won the Emmy for best outstanding writing in a comedy series for Master of None.
“I wait for everyone else who will also have the opportunity,” Oh says of Ahmed’s win and her own nomination. “It cannot rest. I don’t want to rest on the fact that a handful of us have had the opportunity and that it stops there. I want the movement to keep on going. I want the ripple to turn into a wave.”
Oh is not the only Killing Eve alum to earn a nomination this year, as writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge also scored a nom.
“Her writing is confident in her own self, and I think that’s what resonates and what cuts through,” Oh says of Waller-Bridge. “It’s what makes it so mad, naughty and viciously smart. I love working with her. She is a real special artist, and I hope to continue working with her.”
On Friday, Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo shared effusive praise about Oh’s historic nomination. Sharing tweets from both Oh and Grey’s co-star Justin Chambers, Pompeo wrote on social media of her former on-screen scene partner: “So incredibly happy for @IamSandraOh who deserves this more than anyone.” Adding, “No one can touch this girls dedication to story telling or her talent.”I was not on my phone yesterday and clearly missed ALOT!!! Congratulations @IamSandraOh this is beyond well deserved and your history making is incredibly moving. Can’t wait to hear your speech!! Which will have us in tears and laughing at the same time no I’m sure.”
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